The highly politicized five-month battle to choose President Barack Obama's next attorney general came to a close Thursday when the Senate finally voted to confirm Loretta Lynch. The 56-43 vote makes Lynch the first African-American female attorney general in U.S. history.
But the delay of her nomination neared record-breaking proportions. Republicans leading the Senate refused to bring her nomination up for a vote until Democrats cut a deal on abortion language in an unrelated bill. That legislation passed Wednesday, setting up Thursday's vote and ending the latest partisan Washington standoff.
Ten Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, joined Democrats. Texas GOP Sen. Ted Cruz was the only senator not to vote.
Obama tapped Lynch to replace Attorney General Eric Holder in November and her nomination cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee in February. Still, she waited longer than the seven most recent U.S. attorneys general combined for a vote on the Senate floor, after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted on first finishing work on an unrelated bill.
Loretta Lynch's father, Lorenzo A. Lynch, was in the Senate gallery watching when the historic vote took place confirming her daughter as the first African American female attorney general.
"The good guys won. That's what has happened in this country all along," Lorenzo Lynch told reporters. "Even during slavery. Levi Coffin was a founder of the Underground Railroad. Even during slavery. A white man fought against slavery. So all over this land good folks have stood in the right lane, in the right path."
A two-time U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Lynch takes on the high-profile job at time when America faces a series of challenges, from dealing with strained relations and deep distrust in some cities between the police and the communities they serve, to criminal justice reform, to confronting the ongoing threat of terrorism.